Ellen Richardson food photographer in Brighton

Ellen Richardson

What does Ellen Richardson like about working in photography and hospitality in Brighton?

Since moving here in 2018, I’ve been obsessed with the vibrant tapestry of Brighton restaurants and how the hospitality landscape is always changing and evolving, whilst maintaining the core independent establishments that make this city shine.

Guests departing Plateau in Brighton. a french bistro and wine bar. with black facade. Photograph by Ellen Richardson

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with so many of them thanks to Restaurants Brighton, and I love that I’m able to get a glimpse behind the scenes at the work that goes into making all of these businesses so special.

Every one of them is so different to the next and a real joy to capture!

Where did your career begin?

After experimenting with fashion editorial for a few years, I started out photographing weddings in the South East for a year or so, but when an opportunity came up to travel to New Zealand I dropped the business and ended up spending 3 years abroad, with 2 years in Australia too.

a wedding bouquet by Ellen Richardson

It was here I started photographing nightlife and festivals, so when I moved back to the UK I felt primed to continue working in the hospitality scene, and thankfully Brighton was the perfect fit.

What advice would you give to a venue when they are preparing for a food photography photoshoot?

Presentation is key.

My job is to consider lighting, location, styling and composition, and if you can ensure the food is presented beautifully then we’ll have a recipe for success!

a waiter pouring red wine at a restaurant called Carne in Hove. Ellen Richardson is the photographer

Tell us about your latest book commission?

London-based indie publisher Hoxton Mini Press approached me in the summer with the idea of creating a Brighton version of their popular Opinionated Guide books.

The opinionated guide to Brighton by Hoxton Mini Press

Curated by local author Joe Minihane, we had a list of 55 brilliant venues spanning restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, hotels and more, of which I photographed about 30 in four weeks!

Bincho Yakitori in an opinionated guide to Brighton

It’s an absolutely gorgeous guide to this wonderful city and the perfect gift to those friends and family from out of town who want to explore more of the independent hidden gems.

Name three of the most photogenic venues in Brighton and Hove and describe why the photos look so good?

Furna: What Dave Mothersill has created on New Road is more than a restaurant, it feels like being a guest in his home. Aside from the luxurious kitchen and polished furnishings, the dishes are impeccably crafted and presented — I could spend an eternity photographing them!

A sdark backdrop in the kitchen at Furna restaurant with Dave Mothersill. Photograph by Ellen Richardson

Plateau: Plateau is everything I want from a wine bar. Gorgeous rustic interiors with stained glass windows that capture the light perfectly, seasonal small plates that speak for themselves scribbled on the chalkboard, and curated natural wine list from some of the world’s most progressive vineyards.

This combination will never not be a treat to photograph.

Small plates at Plateau restaurant in Hove. All placed on a wooden table with plenty of colour. Picture by Ellen Richardson

Cin Cin: I could take photos of good pasta all day every day. Pair that with all the other incredible elements of Italian cuisine, throw in an intimate, open-kitchen dining experience and a touch of the Cin Cin excellence, and you have one of the most satisfying aesthetics in Brighton. (Rebranding as a pasta photographer in 3, 2, 1…)

What advice would you give to an aspiring food photographer?

Lighting is everything. Without good light, you can make the most beautiful dish look dull, and vice versa. Work on finding the best light for your subject and the rest will fall into place…

and on the technical side, I have two words: specular highlights!

Breakfast, lunch and dinner in Brighton or Sussex. Which venues are your favourites and why?

This is tough!

Breakfast: Permit Room – the breakfast naans are something else, a very hearty way to start the day!

Lunch: We Love Falafel wraps hit the spot every time, especially with halloumi. Simple, affordable, delicious.

Dinner:Bonsai Plant Kitchen – until recently my top spot has always been Bincho Yakitori, which still remains a very close second, but what the team at Bonsai have created is just as sensational but entirely plant-based, which ticks an extra box for me.

I will always return to Bincho for the grilled mackerel on special occasions though, I dream about that dish!

Top tip for making a food picture standout?

Composition can make or break an image – placement of elements and the angle and focal length you’re shooting at can make a huge difference.

And specular highlights!!

Newest piece of photography equipment?

I recently upgraded to the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L after my trusty f/4.0 version died on me mid-shoot – very happy with it!

Favourite lens and why?

The Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L is my go-to as it’s so versatile and covers everything I need in a shoot. The only time it leaves my camera is for the Canon 100mm Macro f/2.8L for those sexy close-up shots!

What other photography services do you offer and give examples of your work?

Rather than have a specific niche, I pride myself on being able to capture a wide variety of subjects, which suits the broad spectrum of hospitality.

Alongside food and drink, I photograph interiors, events, portraits, lifestyle, and a select few weddings for friends of friends – which I may open up a bit more next year!

What is next for Ellen Richardson?

I would absolutely love to work on another book commission, especially a cookbook!

I’m hoping to collaborate with more brands in the English wine industry too, and I’m also considering taking on more weddings as I just love documenting all the special moments during such an important day. I also really hope to make time to pick up my film camera more for my personal work and create more prints…

…Probably over ambitious as always, but I’ll most certainly continue working with my regular clients and look forward to photographing more exciting venues with Restaurants Brighton throughout 2024.

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